A new study, conducted by a team from the Israeli Rabin Medicine Centre, has discovered that mesothelioma patients who have received intensity modulated radiation therapy can live longer.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is different from external beam radiotherapy. IMRT is able to send a radiation dose that is more targeted to the size and shape of the mesothelioma tumour. This means that the treatment is safer and less harmful to the surrounding tissue.
The dose is specifically targeted to the tumour site, so has less of an impact on the healthy cells around the area. Unfortunately, standard radiotherapy impacts and harms the healthy tissue. Sadly, this can cause unpleasant side effects for the patient.
Radiotherapy is often considered to be less effective at treating mesothelioma, as the tumours are predominantly found within the lining of the lung or the diaphragm. This means that radiation can impact the surrounding healthy cells, and be quite harmful to patients.
The researchers, who are based in Israel, looked at patients who had been treated with IMRT at the Rabin Medical Centre over a period of nine years. Some of the mesothelioma patients had previously had surgery to remove one of their lungs before they had the IMRT treatment.
The study showed that the average survival rate for patients who had IMRT was nearly 40 months. This is in comparison to the average survival period of 18 months for mesothelioma patients who have not been treated with IMRT.
The IMRT treatment also prevented the re-emergence of the mesothelioma tumours, both at the initial site and in different parts of the body.
The report acknowledges that the study only looked at a small sample of people, so must be viewed with caution. However, the results do show that this type of treatment is worth studying further and could help patients in the future who are suffering from this form of asbestos-related cancer.
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Simon, M, et al, “Intensity-modulated radiotherapy is a safe and effective treatment for localized malignant pleural mesothelioma.”, Thorac Cancer. 2018 Nov;9(11):1470-1475. doi: 10.1111/1759-7714.12860. Epub 2018 Sep 21.